WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, March 14, a federal lawsuit was filed against Louisiana’s new legislative maps. Last week, Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) let the new state House and Senate districts become law without his signature, stating that he does not believe the new legislative maps “do anything to increase the number of districts where minority voters can elect candidates of their choosing.” The lawsuit filed yesterday on behalf of Black voters and civil rights organizations echoes the governor and alleges that the new legislative districts violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) by diluting the voting strength of Black Louisiana voters. The plaintiffs ask the court to block the use of the enacted maps in future elections and order VRA-complaint maps that accurately reflect the state’s Black population.
The complaint argues that the Republican-controlled Legislature failed to add enough majority-Black districts in the new maps, despite the fact that Louisiana’s Black population increased over the past decade and one-third of Louisianans are Black. The plaintiffs point out that, under the new maps, “white voters, who only comprise only 58% of the voting-age population, will control election outcomes in over 70% of the seats in the State Senate and State House of Representatives.” According to the complaint, this outcome was the result of “packing” Black voters into certain districts and “cracking” them among other districts to dilute voting power. The plaintiffs argue that the Black population in Louisiana can constitute a voting majority in six to nine more state House districts and three more state Senate districts, but under the enacted maps Black voters in multiple areas of the state are deprived “of a meaningful opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.”